Saturday, June 01, 2013

Don't Reward Apartheid by Performing in Israel: An Open Letter to Alicia Keys from Alice Walker

May 31, 2013.

Dear Alicia Keys,

I have learned today that you are due to perform in Israel very soon. We have never met, though I believe we are mutually respectful of each other’s path and work. It would grieve me to know you are putting yourself in danger (soul danger) by performing in an apartheid country that is being boycotted by many global conscious artists. You were not born when we, your elders who love you, boycotted institutions in the US South to end an American apartheid less lethal than Israel’s against the Palestinian people. Google Montgomery Bus Boycott, if you don’t know about this civil rights history already. We changed our country fundamentally, and the various boycotts of Israeli institutions and products will do the same there. It is our only nonviolent option and, as we learned from our own struggle in America, nonviolence is the only path to a peaceful future.

If you go to my website and blog you can quickly find many articles I have written over the years that explain why a cultural boycott of Israel and Israeli institutions (not individuals) is the only option left to artists who cannot bear the unconscionable harm Israel inflicts every day on the people of Palestine, whose major “crime” is that they exist in their own land, land that Israel wants to control as its own. Under a campaign named ‘Brand Israel’, Israeli officials have stated specifically their intent to downplay the Palestinian conflict by using culture and arts to showcase Israel as a modern, welcoming place.

This is actually a wonderful opportunity for you to learn about something sorrowful, and amazing: that our government (Obama in particular) supports a system that is cruel, unjust, and unbelievably evil. You can spend months, and years, as I have, pondering this situation. Layer upon layer of lies, misinformation, fear, cowardice and complicity. Greed. It is a vast eye-opener into the causes of much of the affliction in our suffering world.

I have kept you in my awareness as someone of conscience and caring, especially about the children of the world. Please, if you can manage it, go to visit the children in Gaza, and sing to them of our mutual love of all children, and of their right not to be harmed simply because they exist.

With love, younger sister, beloved daughter and friend,
Alice Walker

Support the campaign calling on Alicia Keys to cancel her Tel Aviv concert, take action:


UPDATE (June 4): Alicia Keys has told the New York Times (May 31) that she will perform in Israel despite Alice Walker's appeal.

Seems like blood money is too much enticement for her. And she is not alone.

Just ask other black artists/performers who should know better than to lend their names to Israel: Morgan Freeman, Chaka Khan, Rihanna, Black Eyed Peas, Ziggy Marley, among others.

See Artists Against Apartheid and Refrain Playing Israel for more information. 

Many more artists of all backgrounds also canceled tours to Israel or refused to go in the first place.  See a 2012 summary of the Cultural Boycott here 

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